It was back down to business again today for Jose Mourinho and Chelsea, as it was FA Cup Fourth Round day. We’d been drawn against Birmingham City and Sky had chosen the match as their Sunday game. Mario Melchiot was welcomed back to Stamford Bridge before the game collecting a memento for his time at Chelsea; he was also made Birmingham’s captain for today. After that it was down to a small matter of us keeping up our possible chances of aiming for a quadruple. There were no less than eight changes to the team today, this after our win against Manchester United at Old Trafford on Wednesday evening. Jose was keeping vital players fresh for the Premiership game against Blackburn this coming Wednesday evening. In central defence Robert Huth made an appearance after a recent ankle injury. John Terry partnered Huth. In goal Carlo Cudicini came back into the fray with Glen Johnson at right back. In midfield Jiri Jarosik made his first full start in a Chelsea shirt alongside Alexey Smertin and Joe Cole. The forward line consisted of Damien Duff, Mateja Kezman and Eidur Gudjohnsen. For Birmingham, Darren Anderton, the ex-Spurs player came in on the right side of their midfield.
The game started very well for Chelsea; within the first 10 minutes we had control and Birmingham were on the back foot. During that period of play we went 1-0 up. Before that Joe Cole and Damien Duff both had chances to score however. The goal came after Birmingham had conceded a corner. John Terry blocked off a run by the bandaged and black-eyed Martin Taylor who was tracking back to stop Robert Huth, however with Terry blocking Taylor it allowed Huth space and time to meet the ball with a bullet header that Maik Taylor could only see whistle past him and into the net. It was no more than Chelsea deserved for their early play and good possession. It was great to see Robert Huth get on the score sheet too. After the early possession and thee early goal it seemed as though we may run riot and score more, it was Birmingham though, who today were playing in their all red strip that upped their game a fraction. Although they upped their game they didn’t cause JT or Robert Huth any problems, their best effort came from an Emile Heskey header.
It looked like it was going to be 2-0 in the 32nd minute; Damien Duff received the ball from Joe Cole after some great build up play between Glen Johnson, Smertin and Eidur Gudjohnsen. With space and time Duffer contrived to get the ball stuck between his feet and instead of placing the ball past Taylor his shot went past the far post by a long distance. Before half time it was that man Huth who had another chance to double our lead. The German who has strength not only in frame but also in his shot, hit the crossbar. Another corner came in again from Damien Duff, the ball bounced in front of Huth he didn’t connect too well but the ball bounced beat Taylor and struck the top of the bar. We went in at half time 1-0 to the good and although Birmingham had come back into the game they didn’t trouble Cudicini.
At the start of the second half Arjen Robben replaced Damien Duff. Mourinho again keeping Wednesday night’s game in mind gave each player a half. Birmingham started the better of the two teams. The majority of their play came down the left from Julian Gray. He managed to get a few decent crosses in but the ball was either blocked or City players just stood there not being able to comprehend that if you get near the ball then you have a chance to score. Darren Anderton had one chance after a Gray cross but Cudicini was equal to it and knocked the ball over the bar. Robbie Blake also had an effort but it went past the post. With All of Birmingham’s huff and puff it was Chelsea who broke better and quicker. In the 61st minute Frank Lampard replaced Mateja Kezman who’d looked busy during the first half. Lampard had an effort in the 69th minute; he got onto a pass by Didier Drogba, who’d replaced Eidur Gudjohnsen, Lamps fierce shot was saved down to his left by Taylor who turned it around the post for a corner.
With City still attempting to pull it back to 1-1 and a chance to try and take us back to St Andrews for a replay, Steve Bruce took off Heskey and bought on Clinton Morrison, he also took off Darren ‘Sick Note’ Anderton and bought on Dwight Yorke in search of that illusive equaliser. Four minutes after Yorke came on however, we went 2-0 up. Yesterday John Terry was at Charlton watching his brother Paul score for Yeovil. Including yesterday’s goal Paul Terry had scored seven goals this season; today JT also made it seven. A long diagonal pass from Frank Lampard found JT running into the box, he leapt and got his head to it to bury it past Taylor. At the same time Robert Huth came off, he’d picked up an earlier knock and had gone into midfield. With ten men and ten minutes to go there was no further addition to the score and we came through without any problems. So, we continue our progress in the FA Cup; will there be another trip to Cardiff in May? The draw for the Fifth Round is tomorrow at 1.30pm. You can see it on either BBC2 or Sky Sports News.
Chelsea: Cudicini, Bridge, Terry, Huth, Johnson, Jarošik, Smertin, Cole, Duff (Robben 45), Kezman (Lampard 61), Gudjohnsen, (Drogba 64).
Subs Not Used: Geremi, Pidgley.
Birmingham City: Maik Taylor, Melchiot, Martin Taylor, (Tebily 26) Upson, Clapham, Anderton (Yorke 76), Carter, Clemence, Gray, Blake, Heskey, (Morrison 72)
Subs Not Used: Vaesen, Kuqi.
Referee: Mike Dean